Gay and Lesbian Travel: August 2015

Vol.4: No. 1

Vacations - when to  travel

While the year is proverbially divided into 4 seasons, vacations can be taken in any of the twelve months of the year.  Vacation travel is only limited to when one’s vacation time is determined.  It is  this time frame that is the basic consideration of where to spend the vacation.

Nothing excites like anticipating travel, and there is nothing better than sharing experiences afterwards, on your return home. The best trips are measured in memories. ‏The planning process can be very exciting as the bucket list can hold  many suggestions and the first eliminating process will depend on the timing of   your vacation  fueled by the choice of  several  pursuits.

Trends show that  travelers wish to develop and explore their personal interests, values and passions but where does yours fall:  adventure, water sports , beach/pool  relaxation, international sports events, culinary exploits, Faith based journeys, fitness and wellness, heritage and music festivals.. The  list is endless but the bottom line is that while on a vacation one does something different that  is pleasurable and generally beneficial it has to be compatible with the period of your travel.

Families with children could be limited to school vacations but the buzz word is planning - the gateway to thrilling and spectacular  destinations. Whatever your location choice, with early planning   you’ll be privy to special sales that give the advantage of the best offers available.  This includes best flight rates, best cruise line cabins as well as onsite resort hotel room and early bird tickets for concerts and shows.

Importance  of LGBT travel experience

The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association was the sole LGBT organization included in a discussion between U.S. travel industry leaders and senior administration officials at the White House last March. The briefing highlighted ways to promote U.S. tourism by improving customs and other border procedures that foreign visitors face when they visit the United States. Discussions included how the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other agencies could work to promote tourism while protecting borders. The briefing included a discussion on ways to improve tourists’ experiences by upgrading U.S. points of entry as well as panels on infrastructure development and travel promotion the need for better treatment of same-sex couples as they go through U.S. customs.

Trending in Technology

Whatever the subject and for innumerable reasons it has become impossible not to include updates on related technology.  The advantages by far outweigh the disadvantages. The challenge is having the majority of the population on board and to some extent this is lagging because of the general concern for safety and identity security. The knowledge that  each new feature extends  tracking to yet another system is to some extent disturbing yet one now has to have an app to call a taxi.

The new Argus II Device

 This is one of the more positive advances in technology, which is a bold new approach to treat blindness, offering hope to millions of mostly older Americans in danger of losing their sight from macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetes retinopathy and other eye diseases.  In fact progress in ophthalmology is so rapid that some researchers have already begun to envision an end to many forms of vision loss.  Although there is still a lot to learn it is not a question of if we’ll end blindness.  It is really a question of when.

Robotics

High technology in the hospitality industry is constantly increasing, with magnetic wristbands to open doors and robots are slowly being introduced in hotels and on cruise ships. The automated bellhop can carry out all the usual room service tasks. Guests at the hotel just need to call the front desk and specify their requirements. The staff will load up the Butler with requested items, punch in the guest’s room number and send it off to make the delivery. Also, guests won’t have to  tip for all that service. With the delivery complete, the Butler will request for a review. If the guest puts in a positive remark on the built-in screen, the robot does a happy dance.  

The bionic bartenders made their debut on Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas maxing and serving drinks to guests.  With increased passenger capacity the need to reduce serving wait time is one of the reasons that led to this shift in customer service. The Anthem of the Seas, scheduled to arrive in the US next November with a capacity of over 4,000 guests will  be similarly equipped.  Its homeport will be Port Liberty in Bayonne, just across the harbor from Manhattan.

The  Bitcoin and how it works

In case you haven’t heard of Bitcoins, it’s basically a peer-to-peer payment system that uses cryptocurrency, sent through the Internet without a middle man like a bank. The travel industry among other industries across the globe have been asking  viability questions for a few years and is, it is veering toward the mainstream . Given recent developments, it appears companies are at least willing to give Bitcoin a shot with the possible installation of ATMs thru Robocoin. 

The D Las Vegas Casino Hotel and Golden Gate Hotel & Casino became the first casino properties to accept bitcoins. Cheap Air is  the first online travel agency to accept bitcoin for flights and for Amtrak.  DISH Network  also announced it would be accepting bitcoin, making it the largest company to use the currency.

Users like it for its freedom but  regulation is actively being reviewed as despite the promises for easier international financial transactions there is a deep concern as to oversight responsibility.  As a trading commodity, profit and losses are realities.  With the IRS considering including Bitcoins as an asset it could be worthwhile to re-examine your financial portfolios.

Destinations

Music Tourism 

There has been sports tourism, wellness tourism, medical tourism, etc. and now music tourism is added to the list. Over the last couple of years, music tourism has become something you hear about  from canny managers  when promoting destinations.

Anecdotal evidence shows that there’s a sizeable tourism pull to music festivals like the Electric Picnic, Body & Soul and Jazz, for instance. Many arts festivals up and down the country can also make similar claims. The Caribbean musical festival calendar lists at least  one event per month in the different islands. Adding such events taking place  in North America, Europe and other countries, choice is limitless and can fit into any vacation plan for music lovers.

Wedding Tourism

The recent ruling by the US Supreme Court, same-sex couples from all 50 sttes can have their marriages recognized.  With the number of persons normally getting married each year, this long lost freedom for same sex couples has expanded the wedding market not only with young lovers but couples who have been together for years and are only now able to legalize their unions.

Destinations for these ceremonies   are being actively researched making same- sex couples the leading group in wedding tourism.  As LGBT rights increase around the world, we’ll see more and more destinations embracing this sizable market. A honeymoon is a traditional way to start married life but researching options should be thorough as not all destinations are welcoming. There are some fantastic locations to choose from to inspire all newlyweds to get the most out of their honeymoon plans.

Historical and film  locations

Joining  the bucket  list of places travelers would like to experience  as part of their vacation, depend on the opportunity to acquire  first hand knowledge of private houses, and historical sites only seen on screen previously.  Special arrangements can now be made to visit some areas usually closed to the public or sometimes only seen from a distance when visiting those countries. For example the Chinese authorities are considering the possibility of small numbers of visitors standing in a closed area on the floor alongside the terra cotta warriors, Buckingham  Palace opens some areas for a certain time each year to visitors, at the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, a privileged few can visit at night when the majority of tourists have departed. 

According to reports, visitors are being offered as part of their tour, personal introductions to leading  political figures.  Along the same lines retired or former Ambassadors becoming guides in Russia, China and Cuba to encourage  informal conversations with a personal touch.  As more historic places previously closed are  being opened to small select groups for private viewings of artworks not on public show in some of the world’s greatest galleries and museums more countries and regions might seek to broaden what they have to offer visitors.

Transgender travelers often overlooked 

The "T" in LGBT travel stands for "transgender," though it's generally the part of the acronym that travel and tourism forgets.  The  "T" in his group's acronym, GLTA, stands for "travel," not "transgender." 

 Overshadowed by their more numerous gay, lesbian and bisexual counterparts in LGBT circles, Americans who have switched genders are largely left to their own devices and dilemmas when planning travel based on their unique needs, interests and concerns.  Detailed information about the segment is hard to come by and is blamed be some to the lack of advocacy for “T” rights.

Some countries like Germany have introduced the option for parents to choose ‘male’, ‘female’ or ‘blank’ for their child’s gender for those born with characteristics of both sexes.  Under the law, individuals can also opt to remain outside the gender binary altogether. Australia’s law allows legal documents such as passports the option to select M.F or X regardless of whether the individual has undergone gender reassignment surgery or hormone therapy.

Pet Friendly Travel 

Travel, usually  associated with  family  often  includes our beloved four-legged friends. Apart from the fact that taking pets along on family trips has become increasingly popular, often    they are eyes to a blind or comfort to an autistic traveler.  Pet-friendly hotels are much easier to find although  rules and regulations vary by airlines, countries and even  with regard to dog food restrictions.

Currently dog owners  traveling to some countries with their pets are required to pay a city tax in  hotels.  Service  and  Guard dogs are exempt. 

            Many airlines welcome small pets, tucked away in their carriers and sharing your legroom, but American Airlines has just announced the creation of pet cabins, where pet owners may easily secure a carrier, with a pup or cat inside, for a more comfortable transcontinental flight.

Each cabin is large enough to comfortably accommodate a carrier, to a maximum of 19 by 13 by nine inches if hard-sided, or a little larger if soft-sided. AA's official page  on pet travel has more informationregarding restrictions on breeds, weights, and other guidelines. Not included: blankets, your cat's favorite toy, and doggie Xanax.

            There are two cabins per plane in first class only, each accommodating one four-legged flyer, on select flights between New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX), and JFK and San Francisco (SFO). Though your pet might not get peanuts or free movies, you won't have to sit next to a guy who won't stop talking, so it's a pretty good deal.

When on the road, animal lovers have the opportunity to obtain the best possible veterinary  care for their pets through pet insurance policies that offer a range of plans. Premiums depend on your pet and type of vacation: short or long stays, domestic or international.

 

 

Reminder -  Check validity of your travel documents well in advance of travel date.

 

 

 

 

  

  
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